Follow the magenta line: Paying it forward in the ICW Part II

As the yellow brick road is to Oz, the magenta line is to the ICW.  To reach one’s destination, one follows it.  While flying monkeys don’t swarm when a vessel strays too far from the line, we already knew the bottom can reach up quickly and grab the inattentive.  Unfortunately, the line does not appear on the water itself, but on our charts.  Still, all and all the line is a fair approximation of the channel’s center and deepest point.

Thus, on ICW day two we brushed the frost off Elizabeth Jean‘s dodger, motored steadily south into North Carolina, and kept our eyes on the magenta line.  The full moon rose as we finished anchoring in Camden Bay.  Gypsy Soul and Drakka joined us in the salon for cocktails and stories.  One account of riding out hurricane force winds in Annapolis taught us a new phrase.  Describing this wild ride, Gypsy Soul’s captain explained how the situation “escalated” when the winds snapped his dock lines and then became “nautical” as he rode out the storm in open waters over several days.

We discussed the next day’s transit of Albemarle Sound, a shallow water body, known to “escalate” when winds exceeded 15 knots.  Fortunately, our collective weather information predicted benign conditions, we even wondered aloud why the guides had so many cautions about Albemarle.


Steam rises off of the ICW as the morning sun begins to melt Elizabeth Jean’s frost coating.


This NOAA illustration shows the theoretical value of the Magenta Line for avoiding spoil areas and other shallow spots.  First added to charts in 1912, the government has not regularly updated the line.  In 2013, after receiving reports of groundings by boaters who followed the line into shoals, Coast Survey started to remove the magenta line from ICW charts.   After feedback from the boating community and further consideration, the government will continue using the line, but with more caveats.  For more information see:


Drakka’s  crew.  For Drakka’s unique take on cruising complete with magnificently whimsical illustrations see:


Gypsy Soul‘s crew.


Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Follow the magenta line: Paying it forward in the ICW Part II

  1. Capt. Kirk

    Oooh frost!!! It was cooling to 62 or so in San Carlos, so we headed S to La Paz and now after a 60 hr passage we’re in PV. One night in Pta Mita, 24 hrs in La Cruz, now in Marina Vallarta for the festival of Sta Guadalapue, then on to Barra de Navidad for Christmas. Yea!!!
    Love you, stay safe and hoping for calm seas and a good breeze

    • We’ve enjoyed following your progress. We celebrated Christmas 2014 in Barra de Navidad with Beth and Jean. This year should be extra special as Jeff from Sailor’s Run and his wife Debbie will be there. This year Jeff completed a solo circumnavigation of below the southern capes to celebrate his 70th birthday. Remarkable achievement and a fun couple. We met them at the Barra pot luck X mas party before he left.

  2. Lare

    I’ve done two trips up the ICW but never down. I’m enjoying your updates but it really makes me miss cruising. Living vicariously through your emails works for me though.

    • Thanks for your comment Larry. I did some vicarious living through Rozinante before we took off and recall meeting you at the Perry Rendezvous while Elizabeth Jean was still in Puget Sound.

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